Critics: State should not threaten people with restrictions

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Stenbock House in Tallinn, seat of the Estonian government. Source: Kaupo Kalda/ Stenbock House

In recent days, both Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and the head of the Health Board (Terviseamet) Üllar Lanno have said if the infection rate does not fall there will restrictions in place throughout the summer. Critics believe the state should not make threats.

ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) said on Wednesday that the messages coming from the state seem to be more and more threatening.

"Is the message the problem or the fact that the numbers are high? I think the problem is the high numbers. And no matter how we put it, then this is the reason why we can't mitigate the restrictions," Kallas told AK.

Kallas said such messages are primarily important for people who do not follow the restrictions because they need to understand that with the high numbers, the usual summer events will be canceled.

Chairman of opposition party EKRE Martin Helme said he understands the situation of the government partially but notes that the government let the situation get out of hands and such messages will not make anything better.

"Not that we are all together in this, but that there's a government doing heroic work and then there are bad entrepreneurs or bad people who don't understand anything and who need to be threatened or punished. I don't see how it is reasonable in a crisis," Helme said.

Attorney Paul Keres thinks sending such messages is inappropriate intimidation. "Implementing state power shouldn't work by influencing emotions, the state has been given certain power limits, they need to be used proportionally," he said.

Keres added that the current restrictions are not disproportionate considering the infection rate. Hotels and restaurants have also contributed 110 percent to the current restrictions, chairman of the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association Ain Käpp said.

Käpp said he generally agrees with the prime minister's position but the question is whether the messages will reach the right people. "The sector itself hasn't deserved the threat. It's vitally important for the sector to be open and the tourists to be able to come to Estonia. So we are trying to help on our behalf."

On Tuesday, Kallas wrote on Facebook that the infection rate in Estonia is continuously on the rise and unless the spread of the virus is contained, the country will remain under lockdown for the entire summer.

Professor Irja Lutsar, head of the government's scientific council, said she hoped the infection rate would fall without the military needing to be on the streets to enforce the rules in a curfew-scenario, like in Latvia and Lithuania.

Last week, Lanno said the coronavirus infection rate needs to fall to 0.85 by May if normal life is to return in the summer. 

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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